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Rules and Responsibilities of International Students in F-1 Visa Status

Maintaining Lawful Status in the United States

If you follow the six guidelines listed below, you should have no problem maintaining your immigration status. If you have any questions, please come to the OIP&S (Office of International Programs and Services). We will be happy to discuss them with you.

The guidelines are:

  1.  Keep your passport valid.
  2.  Maintain full-time enrollment and normal full-time progress (at Lincoln University this is 12 credits for undergraduate and 9 credits for graduate students). Please note that these requirements apply to spring and fall semesters only. Students are not required to register during summer sessions.
  3.  Do not take more than one online/distance learning (e-learning) class or 3 credits of distance learning per 12 credits (for undergraduates) in any semester, or per 9 credits (for graduates) in any semester.
  4.  Accept no employment of any kind, either on- or off-campus, without written permission from the OIP&S and, if necessary, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).Commencing October 13, 2004, the U.S. Social Security Administration is requiring more evidence of authorization to work on campus. Please contact our office for additional information or refer to your Student Handbook. Working without proper authorization is considered by the USCIS as the most serious violation of its regulations. If you refer to your I-20 or I-94, you will see the statement, "Warning—a nonimmigrant who accepts unauthorized employment is subject to deportation." It is most important, therefore, that you consult with the OIP&S before you accept an offer of employment or begin to work. We will advise you whether it is possible for you to work and assist you with the appropriate documents. Please bear in mind that it is illegal to begin to work in anticipation of being granted permission to do so; you must have permission first.
  5.   Make sure you meet the following eligibility criteria before you transfer to another United States school:
  • You must be a bona fide nonimmigrant student
  •  Have been maintaining status at the previous school
  •  Intend to pursue a full course of study at the new school,
  •  Provide documentation that you are financially able to attend the new school.
  •  Report to a foreign student advisor at the new school within fifteen (15) days of registering at your new school in order to have the transfer procedure completed.
 6.  Obtain permission of your extensions to stay in the United States. 

 F-1 visa holders are granted permission to stay for the period of time reasonably required to pursue a full course of study in any educational program or series of educational programs, plus 60 days in which to depart from the United States or apply for a change of status.

If you change programs of study or level of study you must notify USCIS through the OIP&S of these changes (known as Extension of Stay to Begin a New Program).  If you will not have completed your current program within the expected completion date (item # 5) on your initial I-20, you must notify USCIS of the change in completion date through the OIP&S. They will facilitate the process which is called Program Extension of Stay before the completion date on your initial I-20.  

Failure to file for a Program Extension of Stay will result in your falling out of F-1 student status which could have serious repercussions on your ability to continue your studies at Lincoln University, or any other university in the United States.

 A Few Words of Advice

If you are uncertain about your status; for example, whether your program is full-time or whether your permission to stay is valid, check with the OIP&S. So, if you believe your circumstances warrant extraordinary consideration, it is extremely important that you consult with the OIP&S. We are here to help you and advise you, so call (484)365-7786 to speak with an advisor,

Further information on the rights and responsibilities of international students in F-1 status, as well as counseling and assistance, is available from the OIP&S.

Lincoln University - PA International Programs